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I was in love once. You never forget your first time.

I remember feeling so raw, so fresh, so fragile. What the hell is this feeling? And why can’t I get rid of it?! For someone who likes to be in control, I was way out of my depth.

…And with first loves comes first heartbreak and mine was one of the worst experiences to date, I’d never wish it upon my enemy. My mind convinced me that I will not get over it and be the same. Part of that is true, I was never the same but I certainly did get over it.

Although the pain of it is long forgotten, the effects still remain and I am continuously working on undoing it all. I have not been “in love” since, as I inadvertently made it conditional. The ones after him didn’t stand a chance, the bar was set stupidly high.

Now that isn’t to say I consistently made good decisions, I definitely did not. I did become fiercely protective over how close you could get and mastered the skill of not showing much emotion. To me, showing emotion was a sign of weakness and being vulnerable a terrible thing, but as we can see here my beliefs on that is changing slowly but surely.

Between figuring out who I was, childhood trauma, growing through adolescence, university, volatile relationships and friendships, I was a complete and utter mess. No word of a lie, you could see the struggle, pain and hardness on my face. It was a lot, but there is better. Those who knew me then to now will tell you that I’m a far cry from the young woman they first met.

Years later I can laugh at how dramatic, naive and emotional I was, I’m grateful for that valuable lesson. It’s a contributing factor to who I am today, both good and bad.

My advice for healing? I can’t put it down to one thing, it’s a combination of things. I’ll list a few practices that helped me and still do (and I use this for all things):

  1. Don’t rush the process by acting as if it didn’t happen or that you don’t feel anything. You’ll do yourself a disservice by being in denial and it will only manifest in other areas of your life in a greater way including disease. It’s that deep. Give it the space to breathe and go through the motions, it’s the only way to come out on the other side. It’s perfectly okay to admit that you’re hurt.
  2. Do be proactive in your healing. Get around your loved ones, do the things you enjoy doing, find a worthy project to direct your energy towards, write down your feelings, or get help if you need to. The aforementioned will help immensely but it won’t exclude you from forgetting or feeling the pain, it’ll be very present. You could be in the midst of doing the most exciting thing and boom, your mind thinks of them and it throws you off, keep going. With each passing day, it’ll get better.
  3. Practice self-love. Unfortunately this isn’t something we’re often taught, but the best way I can describe it is to love yourself how you would want the love of your life to love you. For example, you would want them to speak to you kindly, to encourage you, to support your dreams and help make them a reality, to treat you to nice things, to have once in lifetime experiences, to show compassion, to see you as your best self…all of that and more, do for yourself.
  4. Invest in yourself.
  5. Whether you’re a person of faith or not, pray, meditate or journal.

We should do these things irrespective of a significant other but for some reason we find it difficult to be committed to another and ourselves simultaneously. If we learn how to do this we can never lose our way, at least not for long.

Some days won’t be great and other days you’ll feel the progress, during both keep pushing forward.

This journey is full of highs and lows, respect them and they will make you a better person.